Legislation addressing the shortfall in federally-inspected meat facilities was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives July 2. The bipartisan legislation would allow for more small-scale processing facilities to engage in interstate shipment of meat products and ultimately provide more processing capacity nationwide.

The “Requiring Assistance to Meat Processors for Upgrading Plants” (RAMP-UP) Act, sponsored by Reps. Frank Lucas (R-OK), Collin Peterson (D-MN), and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), would provide grants of up to $100,000 to small-scale meat and poultry processing facilities to upgrade to federal inspection, which would allow their products to be sold across state lines. Current federal regulation prohibits interstate shipment from non-USDA inspected facilities.

“I am thrilled to see the RAMP-UP Act introduced to Congress,” said AFR/OFU Cooperative President Scott Blubaugh. “Small-scale ‘mom and pop’ processing facilities are an integral part of Oklahoma’s and the nation’s meat processing industry. Unfortunately, these smaller facilities often can’t afford to upgrade to federal inspection. This legislation will help break down that barrier and provide small processing facilities access to additional markets and increased revenues.”

Through the RAMP-UP Act, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) could dole out up to $80 million in Commodity Credit Corporation dollars to small-scale meat and poultry processors over a four-year period. In total, the grants would be available to a minimum of 800 custom meat and poultry processors or state-inspected processing locations nationwide that wish to alter their facilities to meet the federal inspection requirements.

“The RAMP-UP Act is an excellent solution to one piece of the multi-faceted meat processing issue,” said Blubaugh. “America’s meat production and processing industries are in dire need of repair and it’s going to take true bipartisanship to accomplish the change we need. I’m encouraged to see both Frank Lucas and Collin Peterson taking leading roles. The current state of our meat supply chain is not only a national security issue, but also a fairness issue. Cooperation is the only way to bring increased security, fairness, and ultimately relief to our nation’s farmers, ranchers and consumers.”